Thursday, May 28, 2009

Police Can Forcibly Take DNA Samples During Arrests, Judge Rules

Declan McCullagh writes on C|Net News:

In the first case of its type, a federal judge in California has ruled that police can forcibly take DNA samples, including drawing blood with a needle, from Americans who have been arrested but not convicted of a crime.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory Hollows ruled on Thursday that a federal law allowing DNA samples upon arrest for a felony was constitutional and did not violate the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of "unreasonable searches and seizures."

Hollows, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush, said the procedure was no more invasive or worrisome than fingerprinting or a photograph. "The court agrees that DNA sampling is analogous to taking fingerprints as part of the routine booking process upon arrest," he wrote, calling it "a law enforcement tool that is a technological progression from photographs and fingerprints."

"The invasiveness of DNA testing is minimal," Hollows wrote (PDF). "The DNA can be taken by an oral swab, and even blood tests have been held to be a minimal intrusion."

More here.


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